The Wrestler is on DVD and Blu-ray this week and its stars spoke to SheKnows about the frenzy surrounding this Oscar-nominated film.
Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky crafted The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei in mind. Tomei was cast, but Aronofsky had to fight continuously to keep Rourke as his titular character. "He laid his career on the line for me," Rourke says.
Tomei found Rourke's wrestler and her dancer two peas in a pod. "As you see his story unfold, you know that on some level there's some parts of my character that can relate to him because we're in these lines of work that involve our bodies. We're at a certain crossroads in our lives. There's so many things that our characters have gone through — the hard knocks that we've seen. The performance aspects, the fake names that we both have — there are these parallels into the main characters in this particular piece," Tomei says. "Just to play any part, no matter what part it is, you have to be prepared to show that character's point of view -- hopefully in supporting the theme of the story."Filmmaker Aronofsky, Tomei says, is a revelation. "All the nomination attention says everything about Darren. Darren's the best. He loves his actors. He puts his heart into every character. He intended to make an actor's piece and he cherished us and we're very grateful to him," Tomei says.After bonding on the film such as The Wrestler, many actors become fast friends. Rourke has a colorful history to say the least and Tomei takes her IM relationship with Rourke as another aspect of her Wrestler experience to treasure. "We text each other — that is our relationship. We say, â€˜congratulations, that's cool.' You know? Hey, I feel really cool. I got to pet his dog," Tomei says and laughs.Audiences know how important Rourke's dog is to the actor. He thanked his Chihuahua during his Golden Globe award-winning acceptance speech for The Wrestler.
Mickey Rourke charmed audiences in the early â€˜80s including The Pope of Greenwich Village and Diner. But, then through some bad behavior and even worse career planning, he disappeared. Rourke took up boxing and then was forced to retire with injuries and age. His phone had not rung much as an actor before Aronofsky called. "The fact that Darren Anofsky laid his career on the line to keep me in the picture is what means the most to me about this entire thing," Rourke says.Mickey Rourke won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a past-his-prime wrestler who finds the juice to fight one last comeback. When asked how he was able to bulk up at 56 to the muscle-packed Wrestler you see on screen, Rourke — who is incredibly modest — becomes the opposite. "It's an achievement," he says and laughs."I had a really great trainer from Israel who was a former Israeli commando. He really was on my ass for about six months. We were doing two workouts a day. They had me on a high-protein, carbohydrate diet. It was never-ending, really. I enjoy working out. I've worked out my whole life. I used to box. I used to have to lose 20 pounds to fight. It was nice to put on 25-plus pounds for something different. Working out like that is great. I get to eat whatever I want!"With all that boxing experience, don't believe that Rourke was ready to step into the ring as The Wrestler. "Wrestlers move in a different way than boxers," he admits. "It took a month and a half to really get to move like a wrestler."What is Rourke's greatest accomplishment for him personally for The Wrestler? Is it the Golden Globe victory or the Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a wreslter who is also a father trying to reconnect with his daughter?" The fact that so many years went by and I got a second chance," Rourke says. "I was out of it for 14 years."
And what is the greatest change since his comeback has been cemented?
"The air travel," Rourke says and laughs. He then becomes reflective. "The greatest change is that people, who I burned bridges with all those years ago, seemed to have forgiven me for the poor way I carried myself for many years. I just didn't have the tools to play the game."
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